Time flies when you’re in a room filled with talented, articulate, passionate women discussing how your voice can change the world.
I looked back at the clock and was shocked to see an hour had passed. It felt like a matter of minutes since we had started going round the room. We were each sharing what we were experts on and why, and with the help of facilitator Zeba Khan, pushing ourselves and each other to recognize the value of our experience and knowledge. The range of experiences, occupations and interests was extraordinary and diverse. One person told us about her work in the ongoing saga to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified. Another was a doctor and patient advocate, with a book coming out about how all patients can get the healthcare they deserve. One made what sounded like the best guacamole in the state, if not New England. We were all united in our desire to communicate our ideas effectively and compellingly to make positive change (and to eat the aforementioned guacamole!).
During the low-key lunch, I learned about cargo-biking and discovered that a fellow attendee had visited a small community in Australia I wrote about in my research. The world suddenly seemed pleasantly small.
The pace didn’t slow as the afternoon raced onwards. Zeba, with her spot-on mixture of relevant information and hilarious anecdotes, broke down the important components of an op-ed, teaching us how to make ours both convincing and compelling and create space for discussion, not dissension. We learned how to use triangles to help us see the big picture, how our ideas fit into it and how to make our knowledge relevant to what’s happening in the news. Perhaps most importantly, I got to say emphatically to my neighbor: “that’s ridiculous!” and watch her get far too much enjoyment out of playing devil’s advocate to my argument in return. If I could only pick one lesson to take away it would be that sharing our knowledge and opinions is not selfish, but a social responsibility. “If you say things of consequence, there may be consequences. But, the alternative is to be inconsequential.” And my one regret: that there wasn’t more time to share with these amazing people. Thanks everyone and thanks The OpEd Project for an experience I’ll never forget!
— Jaime Comber, Intern at WAM! Women, Action, & the Media